F1 2017: Singapore Grand Prix Race Recap

rr F1 SIN

Lewis Hamilton won the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, a race marked by multiple Safety Car periods, the first coming after Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, and Kimi Raikkonen came together on the start. None of the top three starters would finish. Rain fell before the race and continued through the early stages, though conditions remained dry enough for inters to be the tire of choice though the middle stages before the switch to dries.

Daniel Ricciardo finished second, where he spent much of the sometimes chaotic race. Valtteri Bottas made for a double Mercedes podium, with Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez completing the top five of the time-shortened race. Crashes hit the early portion of the race hard, with attrition in the heat and humidity pulling drivers from the lineup neared the end. Only twelve drivers finished the race.

Results of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP
1.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes
2.  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull  +4.507
3.  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes  +8.800
4.  Carlos Sainz  Toro Rosso  +22.822
5.  Sergio Perez  Force India  +25.359
6.  Joylon Palmer  Renault  +27.259
7.  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren  +30.388
8.  Lance Stroll  Williams  +41.696
9.  Romain Grosjean  Haas  +43.282
10.  Esteban Ocon  Force India  +44.795
11.  Felipe Massa  Williams  +46.536
12.  Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber  +2 Laps
 Kevin Magnussen  Haas
 Nico Hulkenberg  Renault
 Marcus Ericsson  Sauber
 Daniil Kyvat  Toro Rosso
 Fernando Alonso  McLaren
 Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari
 Max Verstappen  Red Bull
 Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari

Vettel {1:39.491} took pole in a commanding fashion during Saturday’s qualifying sessions, with no other driver able to best his Q3 times. The German improved his fast lap, without need, and with a kiss of the Asian Wall of Champions after the checkered flag. Though Red Bull led the practice sessions, Verstappen and Ricciardo could come no closer than three tenths off the Ferrari drivers’ time. Raikkonen rounded out the front two rows, leaving row three to the possibly struggling Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas. Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne, and Sainz completed those fighting for pole.

Ricciardo and Verstappen fought for the fastest times in Friday’s practice sessions, even as the Australian came out on top in both FP1 & 2. Saturday looked better for Mercedes, with Hamilton third, but that form would not quite bear out in qualifying. Both Alonso and Vandoorne looked stronger than ever, setting quick times for anyone not just the McLaren Hondas.

Race Start:
Rain fell as the cars gridded, but slowed before the start. The cars set off on a formation lap for a traditional standing start, with most of the field choosing inters. Hulkenberg, Alonso, and Vandoorne all wore wet tires. Vettel got away slowly, as did Verstappen. The front three crashed, as did others in the field leading to a SC procession through the pits with massive damage on the front straight.

Safety Car/Restart {L1/L5 of 61}:
Raikkonen dove to the inside. When Vettel went to cover Verstappen, Raikkonen went to the inside, squeezing Verstappen between the Ferraris. Verstappen hit Raikkonen first, then Vettel hit Verstappen, pushing the Red Bull further into the Ferraris. They spun in front of the field, with Raikkonen spinning into Verstappen again, and pushing him into hitting Alonso in the melee. The Spaniard had flown forward off the start, making up many positions. He would continue with seemingly only cosmetic damage, but massive amounts of it. Vettel looked as though he could continue, but spun again with a missing front wing and trailing hydraulic fluid and drove backwards alongside much of the field as they passed him, his front wing gone.

Hamilton led under the SC, with Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Perez, Bottas, Palmer, Vandoorne, Ocon, Sainz, Magnussen, Kvyat, Alonso, Stroll, Massa, Grosjean, Ericsson, and Wehrlein the seventeen drivers still running after the first lap. After five laps through the pit lane, Hamilton settled in to lead the field for the restart. Mercedes reminded him, while under SC, that he needed to just bring the car home.

Though the rain stopped, the track remained very wet. Sainz had an excursion on the paint, with plenty of leaves and dirt already collecting offline. Alonso allowed the Williams drivers through, with McLaren asking him to keep the team informed, as they lost the car’s data. Radio and information transmission issues do tend to plague the Singapore circuit.

By L8, Hamilton informed Mercedes his front tires were already starting to grain “a little bit.” Alonso pitted, radioing “no power,” and retiring from the race on instructions from the team.

End L10 of 6:
Hamilton continued to lead, by a half second, over Ricciardo after the first ten laps. Hulkenberg, Perez, Palmer, Bottas, Vandoorne, Sainz, Ocon, and Kyvat rounded out the top ten. Of the top six, only Hamilton, Ricciardo, and Bottas had inters on the car. The team encouraged Kvyat, who only wanted to be left alone. Soon thereafter, he could not make a turn and went straight into the barriers, ending his day. He brought out a SC.

Safety Car #2/1st Pit Stops/Restart {L11/L15 of 61}:
Ricciardo, Perez, Ocon, Magnussen all dove for fresh tires, all inters, under the second SC. Hulkenberg, Palmer and Vandoorne also pitted the next lap, with Hamilton remaining out in the lead. Under the SC, Massa and Vandoorne came together without incident. Only Massa and Wehrlein remained on the wet tires. Hamilton told Mercedes he thought it “was a mistake” to have not pitted, while his engineer reminded him, “They’d’ve done the opposite to us, Lewis, We’d be P2.”

On the restart, only Hamilton, Bottas, and Sainz had not stopped for fresh tires. Hamilton still maintained the lead on the restart. He soon had about a second on the Australian, though Hamilton worried about Ricciardo’s fresher tires. Further back, Magnussen moved up to eleventh by pushing past Massa and then Ocon, with a bit of possible contact on both. Massa pitted for fresh tires, switching to intermediates.

End L20 of 61:
Hamilton felt better about his tires as the track took its sweet time in drying. He led Ricciardo by three seconds at the end of L20. Bottas, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Perez, Palmer, Vandoorne, Stroll, and Grosjean rounded out the top ten. Magnussen, Ocon, Ericsson, Wehrlein, and Massa completed the running order, with Massa continuing to have a bit of trouble navigating the corners.

Hamilton gained more gap, taking his car nearly five seconds clear of the Red Bull. Wehrlein changed his tires on L22. Renault asked Hulkenberg to confirm, if under a SC, the choice would be dry tires. He skeptically responded that it would not be a good idea, as the track remained too damp, especially under the SC.

Second Pit Stops {to dry tires} Begin {L24 of 61}:
Magnussen {3.6s} radioed insistently to box now for dry tires, and did so on L24. He had a slow stop and the world watched. Massa {3.4s} did the same, with Ricciardo asking for more time on the inters. Though the track continued to dry, Hamilton’s tires still seemed fine, as the Briton continued to post race fast laps in the improving conditions. Sainz and Vandoorne {9.5s} pitted on L27, as did Grosjean {2.7s} and Ocon {2.8}.

Hamilton and Magnuessen traded fast lap times, but Ricciardo {2.4s}, Bottas {2.3s}, Hulkenberg {3.0s}, and Perez {2.7s} all stopped. Those on dry tires began posting faster and fast laps. Hamilton {2.5s} pitted from the lead on L29. Palmer, who had shuffled up to second, also pitted. Meanwhile, Vandoorne posted the race fast lap, for a lap. Vandoorne and Palmer scrapped over seventh.

Halfway {L31 of 61}:
Hamilton’s gap sat at over eight and a half seconds to Ricciardo at the halfway distance. Though the laps tracked at halfway, the race would not finish in the allotted two hours, with around fifty minutes remaining by time. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Perez, Palmer, Vandoorne, Stroll, and Magnussen were the top ten. Ericsson pitted on L32.

Magnussen fell down the order a bit, to twelfth, with his team encouraging his speed. He told his engineer to “shut up.” At the front, Hamilton and Ricciardo continued to trade fast laps, with over nine seconds between them. Many drivers seemed a bit testy, with Sainz also telling his engineer to shut up, as the engineer attempted to tell him about a battery issue. He did say please. Sainz sat fifth.

Safety Car #3/Restart {L37/27 minutes remain}:
Ericsson spun on the bridge, bringing out the third SC. Hulkenberg pitted, while Hamilton maintained his lead of nearly 20s. Ocon {2.6s} and Magnussen {2.8s} followed Hulkenberg in for fresh tires. Wehrlein pitted as well {4.0s}. While under the SC, the race turned from laps remaining to time, with about a half hour remaining. Though Hamilton had wanted a Virtual SC, once he saw Ericsson’s stranded Sauber, he understood the call.

The race restarted cleanly, with twenty-seven minutes remaining. Magnussen’s race continued to wallow, missing a turn and sitting thirteenth. Though Hamilton looked set to run away again, he soon lost well over two seconds to Ricciardo. Though the gap soon stabilized, his engineer asked Hamilton to not spread out the gap too much and therefore allow a free stop to Ricciardo. He was not well pleased, and was allowed to dictate the pace. Though video did not show, it seemed likely Hamilton had made a mistake while pushing, and the team had hoped to encourage him to drive a bit more conservatively.

Hulkenberg pitted again, remaining stationary for quite some time before retiring. On the previous stop, he had received attention to the pneumatic system earlier. Hamilton worried about something on his left front before it seemed to remove itself. Attrition struck again, with Haas telling Magnussen to slow down, as he lost the MGU-K. He pitted and retired.

10 Minutes Remain:
Hamilton continued to post race fast laps with ten minutes to go. Ricciardo sat about two seconds behind the points leader, with Bottas seemingly safe to make a double Mercedes podium. Sainz, Perez, and Palmer were sparring over fourth, with Vandoorne, Stroll, Grosjean, Ocon, Massa, and Werhlein the rest of the twelve runners. In the end, Hamilton maintained his four-five second gap over Ricciardo, posting a race fast lap on what seemingly should have been the penultimate lap. In the time allotted, the field completed fifty-seven of the scheduled sixty-one laps. Though Hamilton completed the lap he began before the time ran out, Race Control called the next lap after the final lap, leading to a fifty-eight lap race distance. {update: rules clearly state the lap after the lap on which the leader runs out the time is the final lap. race finish fully compliant.}

{VMR}

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